Saturday, February 25, 2012

NAQP RTTY Contest February, 2012

This weekend was the NAQP RTTY Contest and I had planned on working as much of my 10 hours as possible. We were once again forecasted to have strong wind gusts this weekend but thankfully the wind held out to just about the end of the contest. 

I started out on 15 meters and found the QSB pretty heavy on that band. It was tough printing a few callsigns, especially when some would send their call only once. After working 15 meters, I moved on to 10 meters. The band was pretty rough but I managed a few contacts on that band before I headed back to 15 meters. QSB on 10 meters was comparable to what I had experienced on 15 meters.

After I ran stations on 15 and did a bit of S&P (Search & Pounce), I headed for 20 meters to get some more multipliers. I could not get a good run going on 20 meters so I parked and called CQ, then moved down the band a bit working a few stations then again park and call again. I stuck to 20 meters until the band faded and then moved down to 40 meters.

I did not expect to work much on 40 as the low bands are tough with my antennas. Thankfully a few stations have great receivers so I was able to log a few contacts on 40. I never heard any RTTY signals on 80 meters so once I worked all the strong stations I could on 40 meters, I threw in the towel.

I like this contest for a few reasons. The first being that the redundant useless signal report is not used. The second reason is for the 10 hour / 12 hour format. It does not involve giving up an entire weekend and after spending the last two full weekends in the shack, it's nice to be able to get something else accomplished besides adding more contacts to my logbook. A few did not make it into my log as I did not copy them confirming my sent information. I only had a few odd exchanges in this contest but like I have said before, as long as I can copy it, I appreciate any QSO! 

A breakout of my log is shown below. My contest log has been uploaded to LOTW and now that the wind is gusting over 30 mph, it's time for me to turn out the lights, shut off the rig and spend the rest of the weekend with my girls. Thanks for the contacts to those I worked.

Cabrillo Statistics           (Version 10g)           by K5KA & N6TV


-------------- Q S O   R a t e   S u m m a r y ---------------------
Hour     160     80     40     20     15     10    Rate Total    Pct
1800       0      0      0      0      0      0      0      0    0.0
1900       0      0      0      0     37      0     37     37    8.5
2000       0      0      0      0     54      0     54     91   21.0
2100       0      0      0      0     22     28     50    141   32.6
2200       0      0      0      0     60      5     65    206   47.6
2300       0      0      0     48     15      0     63    269   62.1
0000       0      0      0     46      0      0     46    315   72.7
0100       0      0      0     52      0      0     52    367   84.8
0200       0      0      0     34      0      0     34    401   92.6
0300       0      0      9     16      0      0     25    426   98.4
0400       0      0      7      0      0      0      7    433  100.0
0500       0      0      0      0      0      0      0    433  100.0
Total      0      0     16    196    188     33    433

Gross QSOs=434        Dupes=1        Net QSOs=433

Unique callsigns worked = 345

The best 60 minute rate was 78/hour from 2235 to 2334
The best 30 minute rate was 82/hour from 2220 to 2249
The best 10 minute rate was 108/hour from 2321 to 2330

The best 1 minute rates were:
 3 QSOs/minute    3 times.
 2 QSOs/minute   95 times.
 1 QSOs/minute  234 times.

There were 4 bandchanges and 0 (0.0%) probable 2nd radio QSOs.

Number of letters in callsigns
Letters  # worked
   4       190
   5       173
   6        63
   7         4
   8         3

------------ M u l t i p l i e r   S u m m a r y ------------
Mult     160     80     40     20     15     10  Total    Pct
CA         0      0      5     28     18      8     59   13.6
WA         0      0      2     14     12      3     31    7.2
NY         0      0      0      8     13      1     22    5.1
OR         0      0      5     12      4      1     22    5.1
TX         0      0      0     12      6      1     19    4.4
IL         0      0      0      5     12      1     18    4.2
OH         0      0      0      7     11      0     18    4.2
FL         0      0      0      6      7      3     16    3.7
TN         0      0      0      7      6      0     13    3.0
MI         0      0      0      4      7      1     12    2.8
MN         0      0      0      4      5      2     11    2.5
PA         0      0      0      5      6      0     11    2.5
ON         0      0      0      3      7      1     11    2.5
AZ         0      0      0      5      5      1     11    2.5
NJ         0      0      0      4      5      0      9    2.1
BC         0      0      0      8      1      0      9    2.1
MA         0      0      0      5      4      0      9    2.1
KS         0      0      0      4      4      0      8    1.8
CO         0      0      0      2      4      1      7    1.6
IA         0      0      0      3      3      1      7    1.6
MO         0      0      0      3      4      0      7    1.6
WI         0      0      0      3      2      1      6    1.4
LA         0      0      0      3      3      0      6    1.4
VA         0      0      0      2      3      0      5    1.2
GA         0      0      0      3      2      0      5    1.2
NV         0      0      2      2      1      0      5    1.2
NH         0      0      0      1      3      1      5    1.2
NC         0      0      0      5      0      0      5    1.2
WV         0      0      0      1      3      0      4    0.9
CT         0      0      0      1      3      0      4    0.9
NE         0      0      0      2      2      0      4    0.9
SC         0      0      0      2      2      0      4    0.9
SK         0      0      0      0      2      2      4    0.9
AL         0      0      0      3      1      0      4    0.9
IN         0      0      0      2      2      0      4    0.9
KY         0      0      0      3      1      0      4    0.9
CM         0      0      0      2      2      0      4    0.9
ID         0      0      0      3      1      0      4    0.9
AB         0      0      0      1      2      0      3    0.7
MD         0      0      0      1      2      0      3    0.7
OK         0      0      0      2      1      0      3    0.7
AK         0      0      2      1      0      0      3    0.7
AR         0      0      0      1      1      0      2    0.5
MS         0      0      0      1      0      1      2    0.5
XE         0      0      0      1      0      1      2    0.5
SD         0      0      0      0      1      1      2    0.5
UT         0      0      0      0      1      0      1    0.2
ND         0      0      0      0      1      0      1    0.2
MT         0      0      0      0      0      1      1    0.2
ME         0      0      0      0      1      0      1    0.2
DE         0      0      0      0      1      0      1    0.2
NB         0      0      0      1      0      0      1    0.2
Total      0      0     16    196    188     33    433

U.S. Call Areas Worked
Area    QSOs     Pct
   0      45    10.4
   1      24     5.5
   2      42     9.7
   3      23     5.3
   4      45    10.4
   5      33     7.6
   6      59    13.6
   7      63    14.5
   8      30     6.9
   9      30     6.9
Total    394    91.0

Multi-band QSOs
1 bands     269
2 bands      65
3 bands      10
4 bands       1
5 bands       0
6 bands       0

------- S i n g l e   B a n d   Q S O s ------
Band    160     80     40     20     15     10
QSOs      0      0      9    124    121     15

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2012 ARRL DX Contest

2012 ARRL DX Contest
My initial plan for this contest was doing a single band entry on 15 meters. I have spent so much time on 20 meters the last few years, I wanted to change things up a bit. I like the single band entry for this contest as it normally leaves my evenings free to spend with family. Since Alaska is DX in this contest, my beam is parked to the lower 48 all weekend long. With my intentions of a 15 meter effort, I was even more excited to start the contest at the beginning. I normally miss the first few 2½ to 3 hours of the contest due to circumstances out of my control (at least until I retire). I fired up the computer and got the rig warmed up and started off right away on 15 meters. But that was not going to last long.

Aurora as seen on Saturday Night
Ironically, the photograph to the right is of a local power pole which sits directly in my path to the lower 48. We have seen some strong wind gusts in the last few weeks and something in the direction of (or at) this power pole has been loosened. I have some annoying powerline noise which is strong on 10 meters, a bit weaker on 15 meters, and just annoying on 20 meters. When I first started the contest on 15 meters, I found that this electrical noise was making it tough to hear weaker stations. After a few repeats I decided to check 20 meters. I found that the noise there was not as strong and I could still make out weaker signals. So, after making 65 contacts on 15 meters, I threw in towel and moved to 20 meters. I started from scratch but rather than asking for lots of repeats and never hearing weaker stations due to QRN, I decided 20 meters would be better.

I finished up Friday with a few QSO's and shut things down with anticipation of Saturday morning. I decided to sleep in a bit on Saturday and once I made it into the shack, it was not long before I remembered the morning propagation challenge of this contest. I was awake and ready to play at 1530z but I did not make my first QSO until 1732z with WA8V in Ohio. The reason being was that most of the lower 48 stations were still pointed to Europe and I could not get anyone's attention. Plus, the band was very good over the North Pole, so not only was the band crowded with the lower 48 stations, but European stations were just booming in! 20 meters was beyond standing room only as there was no place for this small station to retreat to but the nosebleed section. 

As I called CQ with little luck to work stations, I tuned around and was just surprised how strong the EU signals were off the corner of my 4 element beam. It sure would of been nice to have Europe that strong last weekend during the RTTY contest! Europe stayed strong well after 1830z. Once the lower 48 stations begin to turn their antennas west, things got a bit better for me.

HAARP Data ARRL DX Contest 2012
I noticed that the band was getting pretty tough on Saturday afternoon (2200z) and early evening. I checked HAARP's Riometer and noticed the absorption rate increase. I had been running stations and many on the West Coast had such a strong echo after 0230z, that many were tough to copy, especially if more than one station called. Lots of flutter associated with the geomagnetic activity. It was not long before the band was just too rough to operate on and I threw in the towel for the evening. I was hoping that things would be much better on Sunday morning. With what I was seeing on the charts, I kept a close eye outside and it was not long before we were entertained with light show from above. I spent a few hours outside on Saturday evening photographing the Northern Lights (photos used in this blog entry above). 

I had finished up Saturday with 611 QSO's in my contest log. I found that the conditions on Sunday were worse than Saturday morning. I was not hearing Europe that much with the exception of a few of the big guns. I tried calling a few lower 48 stations and many just CQ'd in my face. I figured that if Sunday was going to continue like this, it was going to make for a long day. 

I started calling CQ in the nosebleed section again (above 14.100) at the end of the row of continuous stations. I got run off my frequency twice, once by a NE3 station and a second by a VY2 station. I could hear them enough that it was effecting me but they were pointed to Europe and not hearing my 100 watts. If I had been running high power, I'm sure my presence would of been known. Just one of those things ya got to expect when you run a small station like mine and low power. 

As I worked stations on Sunday, I found the QSB to be very strong. I would really struggle to hear a station and the next would be 20 over! I had my volume up and down so much on Sunday not to mention it seemed I was hitting my preamp button frequently just to hear stations. I forgot to mention that I have been fighting a heck of a head cold this past weekend and weekend so that did not help things either. I would get a few stations calling and between the QSB, QRN, and my head cold, it made for more than normal repeat requests. 

On Sunday, I got to experience a huge amount of duplicate QSO's! I normally find out afterwards when I do some investigative work that it was due to being
Twitter Post by Glenn, K3PP on Sunday
spotted as KL7DX or some other DX station. This apparently was just the case. I heard my cell phone beep that normally alerts me to a Twitter post that I was identified in. To the right is what Glenn had to say about those apparent spots. Glenn confirmed by his Twitter post what I had suspected. Now mind you, I have busted many a call sign in my day but so many apparently saw the spot, clicked and called without listening first. I will slow my call sign down in hopes that the 8 stands out a bit more. Now mind you, I only run about 28 wpm so it's not like I'm blazing away on CW burning up the band. I'm not a high speed CW operator by any means but I try my best to correct those that are wrong so they don't lose the points. When the dust cleared, I had 44 duplicate QSO's on 20 meters out of the 828 that I had worked on that band. Thanks for the Tweet, Glenn!

Band & Score Summary for KL8DX
I'm pretty happy with my low power effort and even though my score summary reflects both bands, I'm submitting as a Single Band, 20 meters. This was a tough weekend to operate for sure and running low power was extremely challenging. I missed the following multipliers on 20 meters - Nebraska (where the heck was Nebraska??), and many of my typical Canadian Provinces - PEI (I normally get this one), LB, NT, YT, and NU. Some of the highlights were lots of familiar callsigns worked and several where those I refer to as having celebrity status. Also, lots of unique call signs worked this weekend so either I'm working new parts of the lower 48 or some new blood is diving into CW contesting! Very cool!!  Downside was the amount of dupes I had on Sunday. Also, I'm not a pile-up guru so I work through as best I can. Several times I would get a partial call sign from a pile-up and ask for that partial call to repeat. Others would continue to call making it tough to eventually work the station. An example would be if I had copied a WB2 out of those calling I would ask for just the WB2 station to call again. I would get several stations from other call areas continue to call making it tough to snag the station I was trying to log. I'm a firm believer in the DX Code of Conduct, especially the line "I will not transmit when the DX Operator queries a call sign not like mine." 

Thanks so much for all those that called or pulled my call out of the mud. The band was maxed more times than not with wall to wall signals well above 14.115. It was tough trying to squeeze in but that's all part of the fun of contesting. No matter how frustrating it can be at times, I find myself being drawn to the fast paced weekend craziness. When calling CQ, you just never know if that next call sign will be the multiplier you have been looking for, a long time friend you've worked hundreds of times, or that slow and new station looking to get their feet wet in contesting. There is no cure for my ham radio addiction but from what I heard this past weekend, I'm in good company. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest 2012

Alaska records for RTTY WPX
This year was a bit different for me when operating in the CQ World Wide WPX RTTY Contest. The main reason I had to enter low power this year was due to my amplifier being out of service. I knew it was going to be much more of a challenge, especially if the bands were anything like they had been lately. 

I like this contest format as everyone is a potential multiplier. I also like the fact that you can work everyone around the world! My strategy was at first doing a single band entry but I changed up my plan once Saturday arrived. I also decided to do more multiplier hunting!! I checked on the RTTY records for Alaska and I set my sights on the All Band, Low Power, which was held by KL7AC. I knew that my low band antennas were not going to contribute much to my score. Sadly, this is where all the points can be made! With substandard DX antennas for the low bands, I knew I would have to work that much harder on the high bands. 

I operated a few hours on Friday night and threw in the towel early so I could get an early start on Saturday morning. I was hoping I could wake up early and hear the sweet sounds of RTTY coming from Europe. As it's typical on contest weekends for me, we were experiencing another weather system that was bringing wind gusts above 40 MPH. Running low power and dealing with local QRN due to the winds was going to make for a challenging weekend for sure.

My Operating Times
I slept in a bit later than I had hoped on Saturday morning but Europe was workable on 20 meters. I hunted for stronger stations and I started to add 3 point QSO's and multipliers to my log, slowly. This is where I really noticed the difference running low power! Dealing with the flutter the northern propagation path to Europe, the extra power makes it much easier to be heard. There were many stations I tried working that just could not hear me. With so many different countries and prefixes in Europe, it's multiplier friendly and a good few hour opening to Europe will do wonders to any score! I stuck specifically to 20 meters but checked 15 from time to time. I was hearing stations on 15 but none were very strong. I stayed on 20 meters until the propagation moved westward when I was hearing the lower 48 and points south. 

My Weekend RTTY Rates 
I have a pretty good path to the lower 48 but with the winds, most of my QRN was in the direction of that path. Saturday seemed pretty good and I was able to add contacts on all the high bands. 10 Meters only produce a handful of contacts but it was nice hearing stations there. There was no doubt that 15 Meters was the money band! Lots of signals, most could hear my 100 watts. I parked and called CQ several times in the nose bleed section but I made sure to stick to my plan of Search & Pounce (S&P) for those much needed multipliers. I knew that if I was going to place in a top spot, I would need every multiplier I could get logged. Saturday seemed to fly by and once the bands faded, I left the shack to spend a bit of time with the family. I did manage a few contacts on 40 meters in the evening but that's only due to the other stations having the ability to hear weak signals like mine. 

I overslept on Sunday by a few hours (weekend theme) but I was very happy to hear European stations even stronger on 20 meters when I finally got on. I spent a large part of my morning chasing European stations and most could actually hear me! Heard but not worked was ST2AR as there was no way I could muster enough umph to make it through that pile-up. As the multipliers started to stack up, my goal of reaching over 419,000 points appeared as if it might become a reality. Of all the European callsigns I worked, I got to say my favorite was SL0W! Now that's my kinda callsign!

Conditions to the lower 48 seemed great once again on 15 meters. I spent a bit of time on 10 meters and it was also better Sunday. I was watching my score closely and I broke past 419,000 points at 2053z after a QSO with LU7FTS. I could never get any really good runs going on any of the bands but that also helped me accomplish my goal of more S&P. Sunday propagation for me was much better than Saturday. 

One of the interesting moments in the contest weekend was when I ran across N9RV (I think that is who it was if memory serves me right) calling CQ. I called N9RV and he kept asking for repeats. I was not aware until after I finally worked him (by monitoring his frequency a minute or so after our QSO) that both myself and KL5DX had been calling him at the same time! No wonder he was confused! On a side note, N9RV has some awesome antenna's so check out his QRZ page! 

In conclusion, I was pretty happy with my effort this weekend. It was tough but doing something a bit different paid off. Once I changed my strategy, I kept focused and it helped me land what I would consider (for my size station) a respectable score for low power. I could have operated for an additional 5.5 hours and I sure lost some points there! Low power is sure a challenge and I can only hope that next weekend will be as good, if not better, than this weekend. Thanks for all those that called and also to the many who pulled my small signal out of the mud! Your efforts were appreciated more than you know! 

CQWPXRTTY Score Summary Sheet

       Start Date : 2012-02-11

    CallSign Used : KL8DX
      Operator(s) : KL8DX

Operator Category : SINGLE-OP
             Band : ALL
            Power : LOW
             Mode : RTTY
 Default Exchange : 001
       Gridsquare : BP53LU

             Name : Phil Sauvey
          Address : 
   City/State/Zip : Denali National Park
          Country : USA

     ARRL Section : AK
        Club/Team :  
         Software : N1MM Logger V9.9.6

        Band    QSOs    Pts  WPX
           7        7        26    0
          14     250      651  164
          21     410      856  179
          28      73      160   28

       Total     740    1693  371

            Score : 628,103

Monday, February 6, 2012

2011 ARRL DX Contest CW Award

2011 ARRL DX Contest CW
Making the run into Healy today to grab our mail, I found the mailbox full as usual (we only drive into Healy once a week to get our mail at that box). A large envelope was within that stack. What a pleasant surprise to find this award!! 

Now mind you, I only have an average station so to receive something like this is always worth smiling about. I have 4 elements at 40 foot and since my amplifier was functional at that time, I was running a KW (1,000 watts not exceeding 1,500 watts). This single band entry was taking advantage of my strongest band with the best propagation at the time. That was my strategy and if you look at past contests, it was not my first single band 20 Meter entry. But what really made this possible was propagation and all those that answered my CQ. I'm still trying to balance S&P (Search & Pounce) with running a frequency. Multipliers are a crucial key in any contest and I often lack multipliers due to my lack of searching, or at least less than I should anyhow. Who wants to give up a run frequency? I focus closely on the solar activity because if a contest weekend is anything like this last week has been, I might be better off doing other things. I've started contests that began rough and ended on a high note and I have also experienced the reverse. Ya just never know and that's what contesting is all about. 

I had to search back through the archives to see what I submitted to 3830 regarding my efforts for this contest. Below is what I wrote;

 ARRL DX Contest, CW

Call: KL8DX
Operator(s): KL8DX
Station: KL8DX

Class: SOSB/20 HP
QTH: Alaska
Operating Time (hrs): 18h33m

Band  QSOs  Mults
  20: 1126    58
Total: 1126    58  Total Score = 195,750

Club: North Coast Contesters


Excellent conditions for a change with an exception of Sunday from
1900z to about 2100z. Alaska was DX in this contest so my antenna
stayed pointed in one direction. DC and WV were my last two lower
48 states and they came through with plenty of time to spare.

Lots of flutter and echo at times making copy a bit challenging but
most could hear me. The only exception is when many of the lower 48
stations are pointed to Europe with their antennas. Often times, I
can call and call and they won't hear me so I normally have to wait
until late morning when the antennas begin to follow the sun.

I decided on single band entry on 20 sacrificing my score. I had to
balance work with radio time so I wanted to take advantage of my
strongest band with the hopes of getting a sweep. The sweep did not
happen again as I missed NF, LB, NT, YT and NU in Canada. Someday...

Lots of great fun with the only downside being an abnormal amount of
dupes. Band was hot and by the looks of things, I missed some great
activity on 15 meters. My life story.

Thanks again for the contacts and sorry to those I missed. We had
wind and snow move in on Sunday which made things a bit tough. Wall
to wall CW made for good use of all the filters in my IC-756PRO.

Thanks again as not only did this contest challenge my CW speed but
also my keyboarding skills. With any luck, see ya in this one next

Phil - KL8DX
Denali National Park, AK

You can't win an award in any contest if you don't enter. You just never know what might show up in your mailbox. Strategy is key. By picking a single band, all band, low power, high power, QRP, etc. Since my amplifier is non functional and it appears that it will be that way for awhile, there will be no high power category for me. But with the right conditions and the right contest, that may not be much of an issue. 

Unlike the big contest stations, I'm only competing against myself which allows me to play as long and hard as I want. It's nice to see that my efforts can result in some memorabilia to hang on the shack wall. Those who sponsor these contests also need a huge thank you! We may think we had the tough end of it but major contests are lots of work to those who sponsor them. Something I have yet to do, but I plan on sponsoring a plaque in the future. Without the sponsors, there would be no contest. Without the contests there would be...well, a heck of a lot less wallpaper in my shack and may others.  

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

LOTW DXCC Statistics To Date

LOTW WAS Totals 
I decided to take a peek at my Logbook Of The World (LOTW) totals when I heard that the VP6T DXpedition was uploading logs rather than holding on to them. When I checked, my one QSO with VP6T was in fact already confirmed on LOTW. Thank you to that team!!! 

I have always been amazed at some of the high DXCC confirmations that I've seen other stations have using LOTW. I very much appreciate LOTW and the fact that there is no monthly or yearly fee to use it and the only cost is when using contacts confirmed on LOTW to gain an award. With the ever increasing price of postage, this sure has a positive effect on my wallet! Like banking or purchasing anything online, once you get your account set up, it's pretty easy to manage. My current totals are shown above. No Honor Roll here but it hopefully won't be long before I'm knocking on the door to 200 Entities confirmed via LOTW. It's always a nice surprise to log in and see an increase in your confirmation totals.